Monday, November 02, 2009

Why Goldstream Estuary is Closed to Kayakers

Here's an excerpt from the Goldstream Park website, which talks about why the Goldstream River estuary at the south end of Saanich Inlet has been closed to kayaks and boats of all kinds for several years now.

Eagle Eatery at Goldstream

The Goldstream estuary has become a favourite winter dining spot for Bald Eagles. They flock to these feeding grounds to feast on the high-protein Chum Salmon carcasses - all that remains of the salmon run. Have a look at the graph; notice the recent rise in Bald Eagle numbers? This is because the estuary is now closed to public access. A little bit of history...

In the winter of 1990-1991, a quiet zone was created on the lower stretch of the Goldstream River. This Quiet Zone resulted in increasing numbers of Bald Eagles. Four years later, in the fall of 1994, a Black Bear entered the estuary to feed on the salmon. Rather than removing the Black Bear, the estuary was closed off to the public for the duration of the salmon run.

The absence of people in the area also provided eagles with a place to feed; free from human interruption. Since closing off the estuary, the number of eagles feeding on the salmon carcasses has risen from a yearly high of 12 to one of 276. More recently, the estuary has been closed all year round, a conservation strategy which has encouraged a pair of eagles to nest here as well. Even a single hiker or kayaker can cause the eagles to fly to safety and miss one of their daily meals.

Please help us ensure that eagles continue to return to Goldstream by respecting the signs around the estuary. It is possible to get a better look at the eagles through the video camera or spotting scope. Please ask one of the staff to operate the video camera.

I dunno about other paddlers, but I find this news motivates me to accept not being able to take my kayak into the estuary. There are plenty of beaches and inlets and lakes and shores for me to explore... if this place is one I have to look at from the Nature Centre through a scope, I am very willing to give the eagles and salmon the room they need!

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